May 13 - Happy Birthday, Stephen Colbert

Posted on May 13, 2018

Funny, funny stuff. But also heart-rending.

Stephen Colbert is a comedian, a writer, a television host, and even an actor. But his often-hysterically funny comedy also seems deeply sad, because he is almost always talking about news and politics.

And because he's American, U.S. news and politics tend to be a pretty big focus.

And, let's face it, U.S. news and politics is super sad, of late!

Born on this date in 1964, in Washington, D.C., Colbert was the youngest child in a Catholic family that had 11 children!!! Most of his childhood was spent in South Carolina;  Colbert learned to talk like American news anchors at an early age, basically suppressing any Southern accent when he was very young. He is almost entirely Irish American, and although his comedy name is pronounced as if it were French (kole-bear), it's actually pronounced kole-burt.

As a 10-year-old child, Colbert's family endured a terrible tragedy: Colbert's father and two of his brothers died in a plane accident. It just so happened that the brothers he lost were the ones who were closest to Stephen in age, so his remaining siblings were probably all teens or young adults when this horrific event happened. His mom moved the family to a more urban location, and Stephen felt very much cut off from people at that point.

Still, he developed tons of interests: science fiction, fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, music. He wanted to be a marine biologist, but he had a problem with one ear and couldn't participate in a career that would require scuba diving. He ended up discovering a love of theatre, and eventually moved toward comedy. 

His career is pretty legendary, with the highlights being a long-running show on Comedy Central, 9 Emmy Awards, performing as the featured entertainer at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and now acting as host of the Late Show. He's had a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream flavor named for him and at least five species named honoring him - plus, get this! - a treadmill at the International Space Station named for him! I mean, come on!! 

Is satire sharper than pointed political commentary?

For years, viewers were able to watch two sorts of comedy-news treatment, back to back: Jon Stewart's comedic commentary on The Daily Show and then Stephen Colbert's comedic commentary of the same news on The Colbert Report. Stewart sounded smart, well-informed, and progressive as he skewered conservatives (and even jabbed at liberals when they deserved it). But Colbert...

Well, Colbert was playing a character, rather than himself, as he made his political commentary. And his character was super-duper conservative. And somehow, the satirical skewering of conservatives by a conservative character was SO much sharper! The satirical jabs toward Fox News people were so much jabbier out of the mouth of someone playing the role of a Fox News aficionado! Jon Stewart always seemed to be a nice guy, even when he was going for the jugular, but Stephen Colbert - in character - juggled jugulars without mercy!

Satire is regarded as a high form of comedy. And that regard is well deserved!

Jason Richwine seems to have forgotten that
the United States is a nation of immigrants, and
that the "native" peoples are not considered
"white," but instead are called American Indians
or Native Americans.

Plus, whatever data Richwine thinks he's giving...
I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that
he is referencing no reliable data...


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